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A New Day at the Department of Labor

This morning I had the honor and pleasure to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor, at which Vice President Biden and then the Secretary spoke eloquently about working people in America and their commitment to achieving a better life for them. Several hundred people, DOL guests and staff members alike, were alternately cheering and letting tears of happiness roll down their cheeks. It was lovely to see big, beefy union presidents (brothers) crying along with us women. Getting the Department to serve workers again and to enforce labor regulations is key to the organizations IWPR works with. Secretary Solis received a standing ovation when she said no one should make any mistake that there is a “new sheriff in town!” Secretary Solis announced her three priorities as preparing the workforce, enforcing labor regulations (areas such as equal opportunity, wage and hour, and health and safety), and retirement security, all issues that IWPR research addresses. We have worked with Secretary Solis when she was Congresswoman and served as the Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Women’s Issues and we look forward to working with her in her new role.
I’ll be letting you know more about our work with the Obama Administration in future posts. I only have time to say now that the first 6 weeks have been very busy ones, from the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Act to yesterday’s announcement of the new White House Council on Women and Girls. At a telephone call, also Friday morning, Valerie Jarrett, the newly appointed chair of the Council mentioned planned work to improve opportunities for women business owners.
Now on to Paycheck Fairness, the Fair Pay Act, the Healthy Families Act and many more pieces of legislation waiting in the hopper.
As soon as the cabinet is fully confirmed I will update my earlier blog on the numbers of women in the cabinet. The nomination of Kathleen Sibelius and the confirmation of Hilda Solis are steps in the right direction and improve the numbers previously posted.
Dr. Heidi Hartmann, President, IWPR

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